NavalToday reports the Launch of the sixth and last Offshore Patrol Vessel of the Oaxaca Class, the ARM (Armada Republica Mexicana) Hidalgo, for the Mexican Navy. These ships were designed and built by and for the Mexican Navy, but they would look quite at home painted white with USCG stripes and WMEC hulll numbers. Statistically they are very close to Coast Guard 270s.
- ___________________Oaxaca Class_______________WMEC 270
- Displacement (full load) 1,680 tons_________________1829 tons
- Length 282.2 feet (86.0 m)_______________270 feet (82 m)
- Beam: 34.4 feet (10.5 m)_______________38 feet (12 m)
- Draft 11.8 feet (3.6 m)________________14.5 feet (4.4 m)
- Speed: 20+ knots_____________________19.5 knots
The occasion prompted me to take a look at the Mexican Navy. While the Mexican Navy does have six former USN frigates, most of their missions are closer to what we do in the USCG, and most of their ships are offshore patrol vessels. They have 21 ships (soon to be 22 with Hidalgo) in five classes that look an awful lot like WMECs. These ships have evolved over time, with each class an incremental improvement over the previous ships. Only the oldest of these, the Uribe class ships were built in Spain by Navantia, the remaining 17 were built in Mexican Navy shipyards in Tampico and Salina Cruz with the first of the Mexican built ships being commissioned in 1991.
- Uribe-class – 5 ships, 988 tons full load (fl), commissioned 1982-83
- Holzinger-class – 4 ships, 1,290 tons fl, 1991-94
- Sierraclass – 3 ships, 1,340 tons fl, 1999
- Durango-class – 4 ships, 1,340 tons fl, 2000-2001
- Oaxaca-class – 5+1 ships, 1,680 tons fl, 2003-2016
Photo: Uribe class OPV ARM Jose Aueta (P-122)
The Uribe class were very similar in size and concept to the 210s, with a similar configuration of the foc’sle and flight deck on the O-1 deck. They did include a hangar, were 10 feet longer (67 m overall), and had more than twice the horsepower at 13,320 allowing a maximum speed of 21 knots. Its main gun was a single 40mm/7
The Holzinger or Aquila class were the first class built in Mexico. They stretched the design 24 feet to 244 feet (74.4 m), provided two main machinery spaces vice one, and retaining the same horsepower, achieved 22 knots. Originally they were to have had a 57mm, but because of stability consideration a twin 40mm/60 was used instead.
The Sierra, Mendz, or Holzinger 2000 class retained essentially the same dimensions as the preceding class, but introduced a number changes. The hull aft was extended upward to create a flush main deck at what had been the O-1 deck. A stern ramp was incorporated in the transom for launching a “chase boat.” The superstructure was given a more “stealthy” form with the RHIBs placed in enclosed pockets. A Vosper fin stabilization system was also provided, and a 57 mm main gun was included. A max speed of 18 knots is claimed, but it is likely to be more than 22.
The four ships of the Durango class were originally intended as units of the preceding Sierra class but the design was modified and is now considered a separate class although statistically they appear little different.
The Oaxaca are a bit larger. They seem to have decided that the “stealthy” superstructure is not worth doing. The 57 mm gun of the preceding class has been replaced by a 76 mm gun, but it is not the newest type so this may have been a case of the guns being available on favorable terms rather than a reflection of dissatisfaction with the 57 mm. There is also a auto-cannon aft (variously reported as 25 or 30 mm) and two remote weapon stations with .50 cal. Like US WMECs the range is substantial at 8,500 nautical miles. They have a crew of 77 and accommodations for 39 special forces and/or marines.
Given that the USCG is now responsible for maintenance of all US 76 mm guns and also operates the 57mm, the Mexican Navy’s choice of weapons suggests this may be an area of potential cooperation.
Unfortunately not all of Mexico’s OPVs are relatively modern. They still have ten Auk class 1,250 ton (fl), 221 foot, WWII vintage, steel hulled minesweepers that continue to function as patrol vessels. The ships are referred to as the Valle class in Mexican service. They are the same class as USCGC Tanager (WTR-885) that served as a CG Reserve training ship 1964 to 1972. They will certainly need to be replaced soon. Obviously their building program is not complete.
I find it interesting that Mexico with an EEZ of 3,144,295 km2,, with less than a third of the EEZ of the US (11,351,000 km2) has a fleet of OPVs that approaches that of the USCG.
Evolutionary development is fine. The emphasize is obviously on Patrol missions, but the Durango class OPV look like they could be up-armed?
Are Mexican OPV designed to be up armed if nessasary like the USCG?
I don’t really know, but doesn’t look like there is much room. All of them re smaller than 270s.
But the attempts at stealth would make more sense if they expected to use them in combat.
The Mexican Navy attempted to make and indigenous missile, but ultimately the program was terminated.
Looks like their vision of a combat role for these classes is in the form of doing small scale amphibious raids. I believe that is the reason for the 11 meter boat.
Mexican Navy accepts the first of ten new Airbus 565 MBe helicopters (updated version of the Dauphin). Adds to their existing fleet of similar helicopters. http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/news/defence-news/2016/september-2016-navy-naval-forces-defense-industry-technology-maritime-security-global-news/4397-airbus-helicopters-delivers-first-as565-mbe-panther-to-the-mexican-navy.html
German Navy blof, Marine Forum reports, “The Mexican Navy commissions new offshore patrol vessel „Chiapas“ (PO 165) … „Chiapas“ is 1st of four OPVs ordered as part of the SEMAR 2013-2018 plan) 2nd „Hidalgo“ (PO 166) to be commissioned in 2017, while 3rd already under construction.”
Completion of the program will provide a total of 8 Oaxaca class ships.
NavyRecognition reports that the Mexican Navy will be acquiring a DAMEN designed 105 meter corvette.
This “long range patrol vessel” will be a significant upgrade from the WMEC like OPVs they have been building. It will approach the size of the Offshore Patrol Cutter and will likely be faster (probably 28 knots). It is not yet clear if it will be equipped for ASW.
These are likely o replace the a pair of former USN Bronstein-class escorts/frigates along with a quartet of Knox-class escorts/frigates approaching 50 years of service. Mexican Navy had an option to take a pair of form USN Perry-class frigates presumably to replace the older ships, but let that offer expire. This looks like a better option as the Sigma’s will have more life in them, will be more efficient to operate, and will allow Mexico to take the next step in indigenous shipbuilding. In terms of ASW the older frigates were originally equipped with torpedo tubes and limited sensor capabilities, but its that telling torpedo capability is missing from the Sigma press relapse. As such I’m thinking ASW will be limited to whatever the Mexican Navy in terms of helicopter support.
Perhaps no ASW capability at all, which appears to be the case since they are calling them patrol vessels instead of corvettes or frigates.
Mexican Navy commissions tenth Tenochtitlan-class vessel ARM Chichen Itza. http://navaltoday.com/2017/11/08/mexican-navy-commissions-tenth-tenochtitlan-class-vessel-arm-chichen-itza/?uid=171
These are similar to the USCG Webber class WPCs, a bit smaller, 140 feet vice 158 feet. They have completed 10 and plan 20, so they are about half way through their program, while the Coast Guard has commissioned 24 of a planned 58.
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The new 105 meter OPV designed by Damen will have hybrid propulsion with two 1325 kW electric propulsion motors. That’s about 3,550 HP which should be good for a 14 knot cruising speed, higher than electric cruise speed for the OPC (two 450 HP motors for about 9 knots).
Apparently the Mexican Navy built two more Oaxaca class OPVs: Appear to be decently equipped. http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/news/defence-news/2019/august/7359-mexico-launches-final-oaxaca-class-opv-named-tabasco-p-168.html
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